Take the guesswork out of your garden planning with this easy advice for choosing what to grow.
Sometimes, the hardest thing about gardening is deciding what to grow. With edibles, of course, the choice usually comes down to taste. But with other landscape plants, it can be a little trickier. No matter what you're planting, you can't go wrong if you focus on three main keys to success: available sunlight, soil type, and climate.
First, look at your planting area. Does it get at least 6 hours of direct sun per day? If so, consider it sunny; if not, consider it shady.
Next, look at your soil. Every plant prefers a certain type. Cacti, for instance, do best with a porous, sandy, well-drained soil. Blueberries need acidic soil. Prairie native plants, like false indigo, can break through heavy clay soil. Find out what kind of soil you have by taking a soil test, either using a soil test kit (these can be found online) or through the experts at your regional Extension office. A great way to make overall soil improvements is to mix 3 inches of Miracle-Gro® All Purpose Garden Soil, or a specially formulated garden soil such as Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees & Shrubs, into the top 6 to 8 inches of your existing garden soil.
Climate is another aspect to consider when deciding what to plant. A citrus tree that craves heat won't thrive in frigid Minnesota, and tulips that need a cold winter aren't the right choice to fill south Florida yards each spring.
To discover which plants fit your specific growing conditions, research online and visit public gardens to see what kinds of varieties they grow. Or, visit your local garden center; these shops often arrange plants by how much light they need, which makes choosing sun- or shade-loving plants easy.
Here are a few plant types that suit some common growing conditions: